How many times have we all heard the expression, when we try to goad and encourage our parents or an elderly friend to join us for some outdoor physical activity or adventure, “Oh, we have grown old now, these things are not for us, these are for you, young people!” or “I wish I could join you but you see… I am too old”
Whereas we also have such exceptional individuals, who not only give me hope and strength to continue but to also share my philosophy that dreams have no age and you are never too old to experience something new. My own recent inspiration came in the form of Fotini, fully loaded with exciting experiences, countless hours of volunteerism, many kilometers in mountains, bundled within her youthful frame of 83 years. Her skin might have wrinkles but her huge sparkling smile can light up even the darkest of days.
She recently accompanied me to one of the adventure activities (trekking and kayaking) I organized in the gorge of Nestos in the region of Xanthi. In a group of ten people, Fotini not only did not lag behind to the rest of us, younger by decades than her, but actually motivated and egged us on with her intense positive energy.
As long as Fotini walked and continued to put one foot in front of the other even when the terrain became uphill, we all took courage along with a deep breath and continued to do the same. After all, our egos would not allow us to do otherwise and of course no one dared to complain of fatigue. The glint in her eyes bespoke that this woman was more alive than all of us, even after completing a ten-kilometer hike on a steep terrain.
In fact, when we finished the hike and we were getting ready for kayaking, I approached her in the locker room and asked: “Fotini, have you ever done kayaking or rafting before?” to which she promptly replied: "No, but one must always try before rejecting something."
This phrase… that one should always try… can´t get out of my mind. How beautiful and optimistic it is! I wish everyone was like her. Most at her age would not even dare to think about it, far less to actually undertake such an enterprise.
However, since I believe that everything is possible and that we humans are the actual proof of this philosophy, I thought of sharing Fotini’s story today, proclaiming loudly that dreams have no age.
I dream one day to go hiking in my beloved mountains and see people of all ages around me and finally change the mentality of Greek society, for what they should, what they can and what they are capable of for those over sixty-five. I would love to hike with my mom and share stories seating next to a beautiful waterfall or on a mountain top… and perhaps even with my grandmother!
All we need to do is support them and encourage them to indulge in any kind of physical activity daily so that they do not let their body "die" before its time. The oldest man to climb Mount Everest (Yuichiro Miura) was 80 years old. So, if an eighty-year-old man can climb Mount Everest, why not the rest be able to walk eight kilometers on the mountain, go skiing, canoeing or whatever adventure her/his heart longs for.
So, shall we start encouraging a little more the people who may feel a bit neglected, a bit "out of the game"; who might have sacrificed all their dreams in order to make our dreams come true! They all deserve our support and the opportunity to live life fully.
I managed to do so with my father with whom I have already climbed many mountains in northern Greece and my next big challenge is my mom.